The text below is from an online petition co-sponsored by Deir Yassin Remembered. By the end of 2009 it had garnered more than 500 signatures. It was removed without notice or explanation by the host, ipetitions.com, sometime in 2014-2015. The text has been lightly edited for this post and hyperlinks added or updated.
Investigate Possible Israeli War Crimes
September 1, 2009
BACKGROUND: In late July 2009, FBI Agent Robert J. Cooke filed a criminal complaint in US District Court against Levy Itzhak Rosenbaum alleging that he unlawfully conspired “to acquire, receive, and otherwise transfer human organs.” Rosenbaum is quoted as indicating he had been procuring human organs for “[t]en years” and there are “people over there [in Israel] hunting” for organs.
On August 17, 2009, a Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, published “Our sons plundered for their organs,” by veteran Middle East photojournalist Donald Boström. Boström indicates the Rosenbaum story, which garnered international attention, inspired him to revisit his experiences in Palestine in the 1990s. He writes: “I then travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza—meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed. … ‘Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,’ relatives of Khaled from Nablus told me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin and the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who had all disappeared for a number of days only to return at night, dead and autopsied.” Boström opines that these charges raise “enough question marks to motivate the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to start an investigation …”
Boström’s article echoes a report by Mary Barrett; “Autopsies and Executions,” which was published in April 1990 in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. In it, Barrett concludes, “The question of organ theft is of compelling concern to Palestinians.” In June 2001, Dr. Nancy Scheper-Hughes of the University of California-Berkeley and Organs Watch testified to the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights. She described a “multi-million dollar business” that the Israeli Ministry of Health refused “to intervene and crack down on.” She stated:
“… hundreds of kidney patients from Israel … travel in privately brokered ‘transplant tourist’ junkets to Turkey, Moldova, Romania …. to Russia … and to South Africa …
“While in Israel for Organs Watch in the summer of  and, again in March 2001, … I interviewed more than 50 transplants professionals, transplant patients, and organs buyers and sellers involved in commercialized transplants … none were willing to condemn a practice which they saw as ‘saving lives’. …
“Meanwhile, human rights groups in the West Bank complained to me of tissue and organs stealing of slain Palestinains [sic] by Israeli pathologists at the national Israeli legal medical institute in Tel Aviv. …
“A more troubling phenomenon is the support and direct involvement of the Israeli Ministry of Defense in the illicit national ‘program’ of transplant tourism. Some patients who traveled with the outlaw Israeli transplant surgeon to other countries noted that in each of the organized transplant groups were members of the Ministry of Defense or those closely related to them.”
It’s worth recalling that millions of Palestinians live under brutal military occupation by troops of the very same Israeli Ministry of Defense. Just a little more than a year after Scheper-Hughes’ testimony, Israel’s Chief Pathologist and Director of the national Institute of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv was investigated. Arutz Sheva, reports in 2005, that Dr. Yehuda Hiss agreed to a plea bargain with Israeli prosecutors. It says: “In all of the 125 cases, Dr. Hiss and his subordinates removed organs, bones and tissue without the permission of, and in many cases, against the expressed wishes of the families of the deceased.”
Veteran, award-winning Palestinian journalist Kawther Salam wrote recently: “The issue of stealing the Palestinian organs is known to everybody in Palestine. I reported several times about this crime.” She concluded: “If the Israelis go forward and cause troubles for Donald Boström in court, I will volunteer to testify in his favor …”
Israelis have gone forward to cause trouble. The Yedioth Ahronoth reports, “Thousands of Israelis on Sunday signed an internet petition calling for a consumers’ boycott on Swedish home products retailer IKEA, as well as other companies from the Scandinavian country …” Meanwhile, the Israeli government is pressuring Sweden’s government to “condemn the ‘anti-Semitic’ article” and “Swedish Chancellor of Justice Goeran Lambertz received two written requests on Tuesday asking to investigate whether the report amounted to racial agitation …” Ha’aretz reports the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) is delaying the issuance of press credentials to Swedish journalists trying to get into Gaza. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports Israeli lawyer Guy Ophir filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against the Aftonbladet and Boström in a New York court.
Despite the vociferous Israeli response, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has called for “an immediate, serious investigation into reports alleging that Zionist occupation forces stole organs from young Palestinians they killed in the West Bank and Gaza.” The younger brother of Bilal Ahmed Ghanem, whose mutilated body was pictured in Boström’s article, is quoted in the Jerusalem Post as follows: “But in light of the investigative report in the Swedish newspaper, we are demanding an international commission of inquiry into the case.” American Muslims for Palestine has also stated it “believes the questions the article raises must be investigated.”
PETITION TEXT: As people deeply concerned with human rights, we believe it is essential to listen respectfully when occupied people speak about war crimes committed against them. Therefore, we support Donald Boström and Aftonbladet in their decision to publish “Our sons plundered for their organs.” We salute the Swedish government’s refusal to submit to Israeli pressure and undermine the freedom of the press. We support calls for an investigation and urge the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other competent tribunals to undertake a thorough, impartial investigation of allegations that Israelis have unlawfully removed organs from Palestinians.
Why do Jewish community newspapers, like the local Washtenaw Jewish News, exist? Well, one reason is to promote activities and events of Ann Arbor’s Jewish community; certainly no harm in that. But another reason is to promote Israel. Take the October 2015 issue of the WJN for example. Ten of the 34 articles contained in this issue promote the Jewish state. They are political in nature and encourage travel to Israel, especially for young people on “Birthright Israel” trips.
The Washtenaw Jewish News appears to be self-funding, i.e. sustained by the financial support of its 39 advertisers (Oct. 2015). This conclusion was based on the fact that Guidestar’s basic report on The Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor (WJN’s parent org) does not list WJN in its main programs or operations. Readers should feel free to correct us with additional information.
Based on this funding narrative, JWPF selected one of these advertisers – The Ark (“a nationally known acoustic and folk music venue”) – and appealed to them to refrain from financially contributing to an organization which supports Israel. As we wrote in our letter:
Many performers at The Ark promote peace through their music and lyrics: Jay Stielstra, Chris Buhalis, Cheryl Wheeler, and Gideon Luke are but a few. The Ark hosted a fund raiser for Veterans for Peace Chapter 93 in October. It is in this spirit of peace, spoken and sung by many performers, that I ask The Ark to reconsider its policy of promoting a state which – throughout its history – has been antithetical towards peace.
Here is the answer we received from The Ark’s attorney:
Dear Mr. Herskovitz,
Thank you for your recent letter to The Ark’s Board of Directors requesting that The Ark discontinue advertising in the Washtenaw Jewish News. Your letter was shared with The Ark’s Board at their last meeting. The Ark uses a variety of media to encourage support of the venue and the music. The Ark also has a diverse membership which shares a love of the folk, roots and ethnic music that The Ark presents. The Ark’s membership and audiences include a wide spectrum of political affiliations which are not part of The Ark’s mission. It is The Ark’s policy not to take a position on any issue that doesn’t related directly to its mission or business operations. As such, The Ark will continue to reach out widely in order to share the benefits of music.
Ian James Reach
A Fight Worth Fighting?
In our view, the Ark chose not to respond to any of the seven points raised in the request letter, and merely stated that they were going to continue to conduct their business as usual. We suspect that since they don’t receive many requests of this nature, that it was easy for them to swat away this fly. Perhaps it is business as usual for them; on the other hand, perhaps they wouldn’t dare raise the ire of such formidable a power as that of the local Jewish community were they to take a principled stand and terminate their support for a newspaper openly promoting a racist state.
We can only speculate. However, we are reminded that the original 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS exhorts “…people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts …similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”
Do “broad boycotts” include asking advertisers in newspapers dedicated in part to maintaining an apartheid state to reconsider their financial investments? This report indicates that one lone voice doesn’t win the day. If other concerned individuals and groups dedicated to justice for Palestinians, however, could step up and formally request all the advertisers in the Washtenaw Jewish News to reconsider their financial support, might we not expect a more successful outcome?
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
America First Not Israel
Remembering the USS Liberty
Two members of JWPF attended the annual Chelsea, Michigan, Memorial Day parade and carried two signs: One augmented Donald Trump’s call, “America First, Not Israel”, and the other “Remember the USS Liberty”. As an old Army Jeep made it down the parade route, its elderly military occupants pointed to the Liberty sign and mouthed “Thank you.”
Q: When is Extreme Jewish Chauvinism not Zionism?
A: When Orthodox Jews of the Hasidic Satmar Dynasty invade and occupy an AMERICAN town and mirror an illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank. For all those who keep trying to “educate” this writer into “say[ing] ‘Zionists’, not Jews’” this presents a conundrum as vexing as the Beth Israel conundrum we wrote about in our last report.
Kiryas Joel is the name by which this Jewish (not Zionist, because it doesn’t exist in Palestine) community goes by. OK to call ‘em Jews and not Zionists? Two JWPF member traveled to this insular, unfriendly community this week and were joined by two other activists from upstate New York. As this writer understands the situation, a group of New York City Jews (not Zionists) wanted more Lebensraum (living space) so they purchased land in the 1970’s and incorporated themselves in the Village of Kiryas Joel (literally, the village of Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum). These Hasidic Jews (not Zionists) now wish to annex more land and some locals are organizing themselves to prevent this annexation.
The anger this insular community has generated is described well in an op-ed from Suburbanites.com – “The Lower Hudson Valley’s independent voice”:
“The KJ Annexation is not in the public interest. It’s in a purely misplaced sell-interest that puts segregation ahead of the assimilation by our ancestry in this country. It puts religion above good government. It puts the will of a politically connected few above the interests of the many. And it contorts the facts in such a way to smear every resident of New York that opposes such egregious activity as “Anti-Semitic”.
It’s time for the hatred to stop, and time for the leadership of Kiryas Joel to end it. By continuing this course of action, they put themselves on a collision course with others that has no positive outcome for their own cause.”
Enter Preserve Hudson Valley folks
Our small contingent was met by Emily, one of the directors of Preserve Hudson Valley, and talked about the environmental impact these Jews (not Zionists, ok, you get it) have made on their town of Monroe, from which KJ was formed. One example was the pollution caused by excessive amounts of salt used in the KJ chicken processing plant. The salt removes blood from the chickens in accordance to the dietary requirements of this Hasidic community, and the dumping of this salt has contaminated the water table of the town.
If there was ever a group that needed your donations, PHV is one. They are standing against this current attempt at annexation by the Jews () of Kiryas Joel. According to their web site, KJ wants to annex 500 more acres of land upon which, according to calculations by PHV, will add 50,000 more residents. Emily explained that additional tracts of land along the NY-17 corridor are being purchased for similar villages.
May 28: 6 vigilers
June 4: 5 vigilers
June 11: 6 vigilers
This report dedicated to the memory of Muhammad Ali, Gordie Howe, and Hedy Epstein
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
Conundrum for Beth Israel Congregation
A very pleasant lady named Anne has joined our vigil group on Saturday mornings, albeit as a counter-protester. Her sign reads “God Bless Israel” and she has shown up the last two Saturdays.
She asked if we were afraid because “the Bible says: ‘He who blesses Israel will be blessed; he who curses Israel shall be cursed.’” We countered with: we have nothing against the biblical Israel; it is the state of Israel that is immoral. And also that we are not afraid of a kind and loving God; indeed, why would we?
Here’s the conundrum: Every week a Jewish congregant emerges from Beth Israel to do a head count, so they can “punish” JWPF by donating money to American Friends of Magen David Adom. Have they been counting Anne as one of us? Hmmmm …
JWPF Hires Strategist
At great expense, Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends have hired a strategist, who has shared with us the wisdom of his profession. Pictured here is an encapsulated vision of JWPF’s new direction.
It is based on the assumption that Americans – like all peoples – become interested in a political cause only if they perceive their own interests are being threatened. In other words, Americans don’t care what happens to Palestinians in Gaza (most couldn’t locate Gaza on a map), but they DO care about America becoming less “American”, because the interests of a small minority (the Jewish Lobby) are being elevated above their own. For proof of this divided loyalty, merely listen to the leading candidates for US President:
Donald Trump: ‘Israel, our great friend and the one true democracy in the Middle East, has been snubbed and criticized by an administration that lacks moral clarity” and “treating Israel as a second class citizen” would end on the first day of his presidency
Hillary “As president, I will make a firm commitment to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge,” she said. “The United States should provide Israel with the most sophisticated defense technology so it can deter and stop any threats.
Now consider the warning to Congress from former Illinois Congressman Gus Savage: “I am convinced that [the influence of the Jewish Lobby] constitutes a danger for all America and threatens to rip the fabric of our democracy.” [search the Library of Congress records, Thomas.loc.gov, 101st Congress, “Laying Out the Facts” or link here for Savage’s presentation.]
May 7: 6 vigilers
May 21: 4 vigilers
America First, Not Israel
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends